It’s Bumper to Bumper in my Street of Consciousness

16 May

by Roger White


Note to self: For drive home from work, play Burt Bacharach CD, not Black Sabbath. Remember that vein in your forehead.

I’ve been inching my way along these city roads to and from the old salt mine for about 30 years now. Thirty. Long. Years. I wonder what people who really do work in salt mines call their place of employ? The old hell hole? And what about the folks under contract to hell holes? The old eternal damnation parlor, perhaps? Hmm. I don’t know.

But traffic’s only gotten worse, hasn’t it? You know it’s bad when you can look down from your vehicle and recognize the same cigarette butt and discarded lottery ticket at that same spot in the road you were at yesterday. Man, one more scratched-off cherry, and the guy would’ve been on easy street. Ah, well. Probably bumper to bumper there, too. Why does everything get worse? Even for me, a professed curmudge, pining for the good old days can be a tad depressing at times. Surely there’s light somewhere at the end of this tunnel we call today’s living. I know, I know, that light may be an oncoming train. But if life keeps going this way, will we be three deep in cars by the time our grandkids are geezers? Will it all really be a bleak Blade Runner landscape by the time Justin Bieber checks into the Hair Club for Men?

Nevertheless, the whole workaday driving ritual is unique theater, isn’t it? And it’s not just the fact that normal, mild-mannered people morph into heartless, seething jerks once they slip into their shiny metal boxes. It’s the whole dance, the instant alliances, the one-minute wars, the hand gestures, the traffic-light trysts, the old blind-spot head bobs (“I’m sorry! I didn’t see you!”), the split-second decisions to be either magnanimous or dictatorial. “You may enter. You, I do not care for. You will wait.”

It’s all so melodramatic, Wagnerian even.

Traffic is its own world, really. For me, there are three main components of living: home life, work life, and traffic life. Well, and in-law visit life (help me, God), so four. Oh, and weekend TV sports life, which sort of cancels out in-law visit life, so that makes five, unless you rule that they canceled each other out, in which case we’re back to three. That’s up to you. And then there’s vacation life. But my point is, the daily commute is such a pancreas-twisting hassle that you must emotionally gird yourself to face it every working morning and eve. I for one think we should be compensated for daily accepting the awful challenge. Yes! I say if our places of business won’t pony up, then we demand that the state give us our due for having to get up, get clean, and battle each other tooth and nail and fender every day just to eke out a living. Eh, what? Hear, hear! Or is that here, here? There, there. Pip, pip, cheerio. All that rot! Get the pitchforks and torches! To the castle!

Sorry. Scooter’s Coffeehouse again. Too. Muchhh. Espresssooo.

What were we talking about? Ah, yes, traffic. Let me tell you something, commuters. Have patience with the 21-year-old male driver in his uber-tuned Subaru XYZ-7 or whatever with the ridiculous silver tailpipe as big as a pregnant alligator and that stupid wing on the trunk that looks like something off of Mario Andretti’s Indy racer. The 21-year-old male driver cannot be blamed for thinking he won’t be late for work if he stays one point one millimeters from your back bumper screaming and snarling at you to die all the way from one end of town to the other. Because he is overflowing with hormones. Yes, I know, we have hormones, too—but they’re not like his hormones. Medical researchers at the Mayo Hopkins Ford Clinic have actually studied 21-year-old male hormones under a microscope, and they found that they’re all riding each other’s tiny little bumpers screaming and cursing all up and down the bloodstream. So it can’t be helped.

Just like old lady drivers can’t be blamed for doing the old lady thing. I know, believe me. I used to be a 21-year-old male driver, and now I’m pretty much an old lady driver. You see, eventually, 21-year-old men turn into old ladies. Kinda, at least when it comes to driving. This tends to happen with fatherhood, as dad realizes he’ll have kids out there, too, competing and merging and trysting and all. It’s tough.

Now, let’s talk about women drivers. Oh, hi, hon. Wait, don’t.., ow .. 2i3 4rakjx qbd[[[[[[[[[[

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat daschund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit


3 Responses to “It’s Bumper to Bumper in my Street of Consciousness”

  1. coffee yogurt May 17, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    You there in the foreign luxury car? The gas gussler suburbans and riculous hummers? Stay where you are. I’m not letting you in.

    Traffic. The great equalizer.

    And I’m not sorry to admit that I sneer at the snazzy convertible leather-clad sports cars that crawl along next to me and think, “Uh huh. You’re stuck here, just like me, unless that mobile of yours can sprout propellers.”

    Really funny post, Roger.

  2. Almudena May 28, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    You crack me!

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